"Who Mourns for Bob the Goon" by Joshua Young is mélange of drama, graphic novel, and post-modern fable that follows a post-traumatic stress disorder group composed of like-minded people. They all believe, or believed, that they are third-tier characters from extant graphic novels and comic books. Bob, however, is the only one who believes himself to be a third-tier character from a movie made from a comic book. He currently continues to believe he's Bob the Goon (Alex Teachey), one of the Joker's henchmen from 1989's “Batman.” He keeps reliving the moment when the “Joker” shoots him. He's making no progress with his therapy and then Langly (Alicia Goranson) arrives. She's not comic or graphic novel—she's anime! And then the ass-kicking start in earnest.
The ensemble features Jonathan (John Carhart), who’s the therapist and nominal leader of the group. He’s every unctuous, self-important sweater-clad Dr. Phil-wannabe that you’ve ever seen and is utterly convinced that his treatment is working for these survivors of military missions overseas. Yup, these are veterans and, as they start to realize the kinship between their actual service and the characters they chose for their heroic personae, the plot gets truly interesting.
Jonathan is treating Alison (Jolynn Carpenter), who thinks she’s the Dazzler; Jim (Philip Christian), who thinks he’s the devout Spectre; Sybil (LaGina Hill), who believes she’s Spiral–a Westernized Kali; Artie (Matt Mingle), who believes he’s Mr. Gone; and Bob. None of the original group is aware that Jonathan and Langly have something of a “past” and that what has happened to us before sets the tone for future situations.
There are long waits while the minimalist set changes occur and there’s an interesting use of projection as well. The set and the puppets, designed by James Ortiz, make for an interesting interplay between fantasy and reality, and are evocative. The play has a great deal to say and takes a long time to say it. The second act contains a false cadence, which could provide an alternate ending, as what comes afterward is anti-climactic. The epilogue adds length to the play, but not a great deal of meaning.
"Who Mourns for Bob the Goon" has a lot to say about how our culture treats veterans, how we view psychology and treatment for PTSD and other conditions, and about how and where people connect. It’s a worthy play for those who enjoy the mixing of media of all descriptions. Visit www.here.org
to get your tickets, "Bob" is only around through August 13. It’s a show you won’t soon forget.